Recently we teamed up with Amateur Photographer (AP) to create an experience day for 60 of their lucky readers.
While we were there we interviewed our three guest speakers and asked them all to tell own story as to how they made the switch to Fujifilm. Check out what made Damien Lovegrove, Matt Hart and Paul Sanders switch to the Fujifilm system, and also what has made them stay using it.
Portrait & lighting guru Damien Lovegrove talks about how he made the switch to the Fujifilm system and how using the smaller system helps him connect more with his subject. Can you guess which Fujifilm camera first caught his eye?
Street & event photographer Matt Hart tells his system switching story and praises the benefits of using the Fujifilm cameras; from the exposure previewing LCD screen, to the discrete ergonomics and quality of the final imagery.
Former Picture Editor of The Times Paul Sanders explains how DSLRs created a barrier between him and the landscape and how using the smaller Fujifilm system brought back his passion for shooting. Not only that, he also shares some excellent philosophy to shooting pictures.
The day itself was a perfect opportunity for Amateur Photographer readers to get hands-on with the Fujifilm X system and to learn from our very own Fujifilm X-Photographers. Throughout the day, multiple workshop sessions were held, allowing the experienced professionals to pass on their photographic tips & tricks covering long exposure landscapes, single light portraiture to the in-the-moment street photography.
The best thing about the CP+ show last month was getting access to people I wouldn’t normally have access to. One individual I was particularly excited about meeting and interviewing was Mr Soga – the man behind arguably the best part of the Fujifilm X system – the lenses.
Ok, so are you responsible for the lens roadmap in general and final signoff to which lenses are added?
Yes, I am.
Starting with the newest lens to hit the streets, what was the overall goal when creating the XF16-55mm lens?
Our goal was simply to achieve the best image quality possible.
And what sort of photographer would you see using this lens?
The main images we expect to see shot with this lens are landscapes, portraits and fashion images.
Is there a specific reason why the lens does not have optical image stabilisation (OIS)?
Yes, there is a trade off relationship between OIS and image quality.
Lens shift caused by OIS can sometimes be seen in this focal length, 24mm-84mm (35mm equiv.). Since we aimed to develop our best flapship zoom, we have prioritised image quality and decided not to employ OIS for this lens.
Edit: added more information
OIS needs to move the lens inside to compensate for camera shake and as a result can cause loss of resolution in the edges of the image.
In long zoom lens such as the XF50-140mmF2.8, the angle of view is narrow enough to not show this negative effect of OIS in the edges.
However, the angle of view of the XF16-55mm, when set to the widest setting, is large enough for OIS to affect resolution at the edge of the image.
Considering this trade-off, because we wanted this zoom lens to start wide at 16mm and F2.8, and we wanted to best edge-to-edge quality throughout the entire zoom range, we decided to not employ OIS.
A question I’ve been asked a lot: was there a reason for the focal length overlap between the XF16-55mm and the XF50-140mm lenses?
We planned this product to be very useful lens for both landscape shooting and portrait shooting. 24mm (35mm equiv.) is good for landscape shooting. 84mm (35mm equiv.) is good for portrait shooting. We consider to include both focal length when developed.
Moving on to the products in the recent roadmap update, this new XF35mm F2 is a very interesting product. Is it aimed as a step up lens for an XC zoom user or would this be for the high-end Street & Reportage photographers?
This lens is aimed towards the professional or serious amateur photographer that wants to increase the mobility and speed of their photography. With the original XF35mm f1.4 lens, its speed was not as efficient due to its many lens elements moving together.
So this new lens would have increased focusing speed?
Yes that’s correct. We wanted to make a lens that could be the next step for a photographer who already knows and loves the quality of the XF lenses. We think of this lens as a mobility lens due to its clever design.
I understand that the newly announced XF1.4x tele-converter is not compatible with all of the existing lenses. Is there a reason for this?
Due the ergonomics of the converter, it physically will not allow other lenses to attach.
Are there plans to create other sizes? For example a 1.6x or 2x?
This is very much a possibility, we may create a 2x converter in the future although this has not been confirmed.
Do you know what the aperture options are for the XF100-400mm?
As the head of design for the Fujifilm X-series we have a lot to thank Masasumi Imai for.
He’s overseen the design development of all models including the original X100, the X-E2 and, his own personal favourite, the X-T1. During the very busy photokina 2014 show we were able to grab 15 minutes with Imai-san to ask him about his inspiration, the current range and what we can hope to see in the future.
On a day-to-day basis what does your job involve?
Every day I think about design. I am in charge of the exterior design team, comprising five product designers and three GUI designers.
When an X-series camera is designed, what comes first, the interior design or the exterior?
Normally, designers will start by sketching the design of a camera, but Fujifilm is completely different to other companies. All three teams will meet; the brand team, the design team and the development team and all aspects of the camera are discussed all the way through the process. All aspects of the camera complement each other.
How long before a model comes to market would you start talking about it?
That depends on the model, but typically one year. An upgrade will be quicker – from the X100 to the X100S, for example – but that’s only because a great deal of time was spent on the original concept.
Is the design of the X-series what is making it so popular?
I think so. Although I am the design manager, many people decided that we should go for this traditional design style. It has always been a team effort.
Where did your original inspiration come from?
My father had a film camera and he used to tell me not to touch it. He would say: ‘This is very important and very expensive.’ But I wanted to touch it and this helped me realise the importance of creating a camera that users wanted to pick up and use. When I discussed this with my colleagues, they confirmed similar experiences. This wasn’t purely my Japanese colleagues, but also those in the USA, the UK and many other countries. They all said the same thing. I thought this was a great reason to create a camera that evoked these feelings.
Where do you get your ideas now?
Everywhere! I love to listen to music, drive cars, drink, eat and go to the movies – all these things give me ideas that can be put into camera design.
Do you have a favourite X-series camera?
That is a difficult question, but I think I like the X-T1 Graphite Silver edition the most.
One of very few criticisms of the X-T1’s design was that the buttons on the rear quadrant were too recessed. How do you feel about those comments?
When the X-T1 was designed we were aware that, due to the small size of the camera body, it was possible to press the buttons accidentally, so we made them more convex to prevent this. This is the reason for them being more recessed into the body. We didn’t change the design on the Graphite Silver version, but we did improve the operability of the buttons, making them easier to press. We are always looking to optimise and improve our manufacturing processes in this way.
One thing that Fujifilm does very well is listen to customers. How does that process of listening and then implementing the ideas work?
We get lots of feedback from customers. We split all the opinions into different categories, such as operation, image quality and design so we can consider each set individually. It’s very important to do this as customers sometimes suggest changes that we have either dismissed or not considered. The grip we launched for the X100 series is a good example. We didn’t think it was needed, we initially felt it would make the camera too much like a digital SLR and not like a rangefinder. But many people asked for this so we went ahead and produced it.
How will X-series cameras develop in the future?
There are many possibilities. One option would be to modernise the existing camera styles, another would be to go for an even more traditional style. Internally, we are going to concentrate on our APS-C X-Trans sensor and make sure there are many lenses and accessories that complement it. There could be a full-frame model in the future, I don’t know, but we started as a film company and this means we’re used to working with different formats.
Viewfinder resolution will undoubtedly increase going forward, as well as the speed – the current scanning frame rate is 54 frames per scan, but we want it to be over 100. This will help it look even more like an optical viewfinder and, in fact, exceed it.
We do intend to keep producing models at the current rate, so there will be plenty more to come from Fujifilm – our teams are very busy!